Chapter 18.28


18.28.010    Purpose.

18.28.020    Findings and declarations.

18.28.030    Findings to approve a variance.

18.28.040    Approving authority.

18.28.050    Procedure.

18.28.060    Enforcement.

18.28.010 Purpose.

This chapter is to provide findings and procedures to review applications for variances. Variances are intended to provide relief from strict interpretation of the requirements of the Land Development Code. The concept is that the relief is the minimum approval required to allow a property owner to exercise a property right. Variances are used when the strict application of the code results in an inability of the property owner to exercise a basic development entitlement. (Ord. CCO-09-02, 2009)

18.28.020 Findings and declarations.

The City Council understands that there are many circumstances that result in a property owner seeking a variance from the requirements of the Land Development Code. In order to ensure that variance procedures are uniform and consistent, the City Council finds as follows:

(A) Variances are intended to allow a property owner to be able to reasonably develop on lands within the City.

(B) Variances are not intended to provide a special privilege to one property owner over another property owner in the same zoning district with similar site conditions.

(C) Variances cannot be used as a means for the City “as a representative of the public at large” to give an economic advantage to one property owner over another. For this reason, variances cannot be used to:

(1) Approve a special privilege to one property owner that is not available to other property owners in similar circumstances;

(2) Approve an extra parcel beyond what is permitted by the General Plan densities;

(3) Increase the amount of lot coverage to allow a larger building on a parcel that is otherwise adequate in size for a building, parking lot, and landscaping;

(4) Increase the area permitted for signs or the height of signs;

(5) Approve a land use that is otherwise not allowed in a zoning district;

(6) Increase the maximum density;

(7) Allow expansion beyond the lot coverage or site development permitted for a parcel of land.

(D) Variances are used when a property owner would be precluded from any development of a parcel if the code is followed as a result of the physical shape of the lot, its unique topography, or other physical conditions that are not found on similar lots in the same zoning district or the same neighborhood. Generally, the purpose of the variance is to rectify development problems related to setbacks or the method by which building height is measured. (Ord. CCO-09-02, 2009; Ord. 258 §§ 7.301, 7.302, 1967)

18.28.030 Findings to approve a variance.

Variances can only be approved if the Planning Commission makes all of the following findings:

(A) The physical characteristics of the property are unique and its shape, topography, or location of access is different from other properties in the same zoning district and the general vicinity.

(B) Strict interpretation of the Land Development Code with granting a variance means that the property owner cannot develop the land in conjunction with basic property entitlement of the zoning district.

(C) The relief being granted by approval of the variance is the minimum relief necessary to restore the property entitlement.

(D) Approval of the variance does not adversely affect other properties in the area or within the same zoning district.

(E) The approval does not undermine the purpose and development standards of the zone. (Ord. CCO-09-02, 2009; Ord. 258 §§ 7.302, 7.303, 1967)

18.28.040 Approving authority.

The designated approving authority for a variance is the Planning Commission. (Ord. CCO-09-02, 2009; Ord. 258 §§ 7.305, 7.306, 1967)

18.28.050 Procedure.

(A) An application signed by the property owner shall be submitted to the City.

(B) The City will review the variance application and determine to which public agencies or entities the application will be submitted for review and comment. The application will be reviewed to ensure a complete, accurate, and legible submittal. Incomplete applications are returned to the applicant pursuant to California law.

(C) When the City accepts the application as complete, the scope of environmental review shall be determined.

(D) The variance application shall be scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission.

(E) The recommendation of the Planning Commission, including its findings and conditions, shall be chronicled in writing by a staff report and a resolution of action.

(F) The decision of the Planning Commission may be appealed to the City Council pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 18.32 MSMC (Appeals). (Ord. CCO-09-02, 2009; Ord. 258 §§ 7.303, 7.304, 1967)

18.28.060 Enforcement.

Failure to comply with the conditions of any variance constitutes a violation of this code. The City, among its remedies, may revoke the variance, following the procedures in MSMC 18.30.070 (Modification and Revocation), and require conformance to the overall zoning regulations. (Ord. CCO-11-05 § 73, 2011; Ord. CCO-09-02, 2009)